Cover Story - Vol. 50, No.5AA, Issue #12

Cover Story - Vol. 50, No.5AA, Issue #12

Cover Story: Rae-Dawn Arabians ... A New Era
by THERESA CARDAMONE

Bob Dylan once said, “There is nothing so stable as change.” It is a sentiment that rings especially true for Murray and Shirley Popplewell’s Rae-Dawn Arabians, as they embrace the future under the guidance of new manager/trainer Alcides Rodrigues. Alcides and his wife Margaux—herself a world-class horsewoman—are the newest members of the Rae-Dawn team. Alcides has over a dozen years’ experience competing and winning at the highest levels, achieving many national championships. He is also a gifted mentor who has guided many amateurs to national titles. Alcides brings with him a wisdom and work ethic that Murray deeply appreciates.  

“It’s a whole new era here at Rae-Dawn,” Murray avers. “Alcides wants to take a targeted approach to showing based on what he’s learned about the industry, judging and competing. Instead of a taking a barnful of horses, we are selecting the best individuals for each show.” It’s a strategy that is already paying off handsomely. At the 2019 Region 8 Championships in Denver, Alcides’ expertise was on full display when he showed three Rae-Dawn homebreds—all out of Bey Ambition daughters—to regional honors.

RD Momentum, a son of RD Magic Moments and the exceptional sire Emerald J, claimed the title of Region 8 Reserve Champion Stallion. Alcides also led RD Marcelina, a QR Marc daughter out of RD Siena Serenade, to her Reserve Champion Yearling Filly win. Meanwhile, in the Region 8 pre-show, Murray Popplewell confidently showed PCF Crystal Vision (PCF Vision x MCA Afire Beylee, by Afire Bey V), to the championship for 2-year-old and older mares, her tune-up for Canada. Bred by Sam Peacemaker, PCF Crystal Vision and Murray had already won 2019 Scottsdale Champion Mare AOTH honors in February.  

Murray isn’t shy about sharing his opinion that the Canadian Nationals is the best title show on the continent. “It’s such a complete show,” he says with enthusiasm. “There’s a great atmosphere of unity—it’s fun to have halter and performance, junior riders, and sport horses all together. It’s always fun to win, but it’s also fun if you get beat by a really good horse. This year’s halter competition was amazing; the classes were deep with beautiful horses.”

It was a spectacular show for Rae-Dawn, with all six horses finishing in the top ten. RD Marcelina was Canadian National Top Ten ABS Yearling Filly, finishing third in the final; RD Bandero (RD Capriotti x RD Annabelle Lee) was Top Ten ABS Yearling Colt; Alcides also showed RD Marzella (QR Marc x Jazella FA) to the Top Ten Futurity Filly award and RD Naimar (RD Dynamo x SB Marina) to the title of Canadian National Top Ten Futurity Gelding. And then there was PCF Crystal Vision.

Shown to perfection by Alcides, PCF Crystal Vision dazzled in the open mare competition, capturing the title of Canadian National Reserve Champion Mare. And in a testament to the Rae-Dawn program, her homebred Shanghai EA daughter, RD Quianna, was named 2019 Canadian National Reserve Champion Jackpot Two-Year-Old Filly! It was a rare mother/daughter moment. To top it all, Murray and PCF Crystal Vision teamed up to bring home the Canadian National Champion Mare AOTH trophy.

Next on the horizon for Rae-Dawn Arabians is the U.S. National Championships. They plan to show two outstanding geldings, RD Exxano (Exxalt x RD Ambianna) and RD Naimar, in Yearling and Futurity Geldings respectively. And according to Murray, RD Marcelina “will be on her A game” for the yearling filly championship. But it’s safe to say the most exciting class for Rae-Dawn will be Giana Leah PCF’s return to the national stage as a 2-year-old. Another product of Sam Peacemaker breeding, Giana Leah is the undefeated, unanimous 2018 U.S. National Champion Yearling Filly and 2018 Scottsdale Junior Champion Filly. She is sure to draw a crowd.

“It’s always nerve-wracking to send out an undefeated horse, but we’re excited!” Murray enthuses. “We want people to see what we have.”